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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Saudi Arabia Angers Asian Buyers As It Hikes Oil Prices

Saudi Arabia has hiked its crude oil prices for Asian buyers by $0.40 per barrel and cut those for European and U.S. buyers by $0.20 and $0.10 per barrel, respectively, Reuters has reported, noting the increase is for May cargos, from the prices for April cargos.

This means the May shipments price for Arab Light—Saudi Arabia’s flagship grade—will cost Asian buyers $1.80 above the Oman/Dubai average, which is used as basis for price-setting. The Oman benchmark was trading above $63 a barrel at the time of writing, and the Dubai contract was above $64 a barrel.

The news is unlikely to be welcome by the two biggest buyers of Saudi crude, China and India, especially by India, which has been vocal in its opposition to OPEC’s price-raising efforts.

The world’s third-largest consumer of oil has repeatedly called on the cartel to stop cutting production and let prices slide. Meanwhile, it has started looking for alternatives to Middle Eastern oil.

“We have asked companies to aggressively look for diversification. We cannot be held hostage to the arbitrary decision of Middle East producers. When they wanted to stabilize the market we stood by them,” a government source told Reuters in early March.

India imports as much as 80 percent of the crude oil it consumes. Of this, some 60 percent comes from Middle Eastern producers. According to unnamed sources cited by Reuters, India could diversify into more U.S. crude and crude from the world’s newest producer—Guyana.

Meanwhile, the government has asked refiners to review their contracts with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern producers and use their collective bargaining power to get better terms, The Hindu reported this weekend.

China, in the meantime, is gobbling up cheap Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions and may not need to continue buying at the rates it did last year, when crude was dirt cheap wherever it came from.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com


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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 05 2021 said:
    There is a reason why Saudi Arabia has hiked its Arab Light crude oil price to Asian buyers and cut it for European and US buyers.

    The Asia-Pacific area is the world’s largest oil market and Saudi Arabia’s biggest with light crude normally fetching higher prices than in the US or Europe. Even with the rise, Saudi Arabia can easily undercut US ultra-low crude in the Asian market.

    Demand for oil in general in Europe and the United states is currently weaker than than in the Asia-Pacific region. That is why Saudi Arabia has cut the price of its Light crude so as to enhance its market share there.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Maxander on April 05 2021 said:
    Not just Saudi Arabia but rest of the OPEC shoukd also raise oil prices anywhere between 20 to 30% from current level as Covid has become a manipulating reason for Asian buyers to lower or disript the oil demand, oil prices & oil markets.

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